India, Sri Lanka.
Forest clearings, scrub; hot, low country.
The head is small with stout bill. The neck is long and the body large. The long legs have small spurs on the males. The tail is short, hidden by the greatly elongated feathers of the train. The male has a fan-shaped crest and head of metallic blue, a white band from nostril to eye and a white patch below the eye. The neck and upper breast are bright royal blue, the back, pale metallic green. The train is metallic green with bronze and purple reflections and deep blue 'eyes' or ocelli surrounded by four rings of iridescent blue, bronze, green and brown. The wings are bright chestnut. The female has a brown crest. The eyebrows, sides of the head and throat are white. The breast and back are metallic green with the rest of the body dull brown. The young and females are similarly marked for the first year, with the young males gradually turning blue on the head and neck. The length of the train increases up to the sixth year of life. The train is lost in the summer and comes in again during the fall. The males call frequently during the breeding season, the cry being loud and harsh.
Gregarious by nature, adult peacocks live amicably together for much of the year, only separating for the breeding season when each male wanders off with three or four hens. Although sociable with their own species, they do not mix with other domestic animals. When flushed, the birds take flight with relatively little noise, rising almost vertically to the tree tops. Since they are unencumbered by the heavy train, females outmaneuver the males. They are crepuscular and at night roost in the trees. The males display frontally, the train being lifted and spread like a fan, supported by the stiff tail feathers. The cock sends a shivering rustle through the erect feathers so the metallic colors dance and the noise is like the rustle of a silk dress. Even when no hens are present, peacocks will display.
Peahens nest on the ground, making a shallow depression scantily lined with leaves or grass and usually well hidden. 4-8 large creamy eggs are laid. After an incubation of 28-30 days, the precocial young hatch. After a few days they are able to follow their mother into the treetops to roost at night. Sexual maturity is at three years.
The common peafowl has been introduced throughout the world. Peafowl are regarded with superstition among the Hindus and are the symbol of the god Krishna.